Although budgets feature prominently, the network’s house-flipping shows aren’t really about money. Rather, they offer the thrill of watching something deteriorated revive. Replacing corroded pipes and shoring up sagging foundations is as important to the drama as ripping out hideous wallpaper or installing new countertops. The makeovers aren’t merely cosmetic. Something deeper than fashion is at stake. On HGTV, decay isn’t a permanent condition, and anything can be repaired. Things get better.Ditto the car renovation shows. If something isn't working and a part isn't available, they don't just stare at the customer like a fish on ice, they pop into the shop and manufacture what they need. It's "can do" all the way down. Yesterday's "This Old House" had a terrific segment on marble mining. They showed miners cutting out a block of marble weighing many tons, as big as a garage. No one sat around saying, "Oh me, the marble's in the hillside, however will we get it out. Let's have another drink."
Postrel contrasts these popular shows, popular though unhip in their blandness, with "train-wreck TV," which I take to be the endless parade of series about people with horror-show families who are wedded to their dysfunction.
I have minor crushes on the carpenter and plumber from "This Old House." I want to sit at their feet absorbing their knowledge. They know how everything works, and can make it work better.
Decay is a permanent condition, but only in the long run. We live in the short run.